People to get say over Western Link options to join Norwich NDR to A47
- Credit: Norfolk County Council
People will be able to have their say over potential routes for the road which would join the Norwich Northern Distributor Road to the A47 within weeks.
Four routes were recently unveiled by Norfolk County Council for the so-called Western Link, with the costs ranging from £60m to £161m.
And members of the council's environment, development and transport committee have agreed to put them out for public consultation.
A 30ft high viaduct could be built over the River Wensum and its flood plains through three of the options, while one would also require a second viaduct over the River Tud.
The £205m NDR, now known as the Broadland Northway, currently ends at the A1067 Fakenham Road.
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A connection to the A47 was ruled out more than a decade ago because of the cost of crossing the Wensum Valley.
Parts of the River Wensum are designated as a site of special scientific interest and it is a special area of conservation.
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But councillors made the link one of County Hall's priorities two years ago.
They say talks with Natural England and the Environment Agency suggest a solution can be found - although the scheme would depend on securing funding from the government.
Conservative county councillor Stuart Clancy, who chaired a working group which helped draw up the options, said: 'I'm single-minded in delivering this Road in the interests of the whole of Norfolk.
'The initial consultation proved there was overwhelming public support for a road solution.
'We need engineering solutions to the environmental problems.
'The objective of this road will be to improve the living environment for people in Norwich and Norfolk.'
Tom McCabe, executive director of community and environmental services, said officers would work to get the scheme right - and the public's views were key to that.
He said: 'It's a bit like the Grand National.
'There's a long way to go and a lot of fences. If we cut corners, we will be found out at public inquiry.
'If we don't have a completely robust case, we will be found out and if we don't have a comprehensive business package, we will be found out.'
Labour's Terry Jermy said he was 'torn' about the scheme.
He questioned whether the council was fully committed to sustainable transport and questioned spending 'huge amounts' of money when services such as children's centres were facing cuts.
He said: 'I'm not completely against it, but I am not euphorically for it. I feel really torn.'
The routes have been slightly amended from the ones recently published, following feedback.
The northern ends of options C and D and the southern ends of options B and C, which previously followed similar but not identical lines, now have the same alignment.
And an alternative to how option D joins the A47 has been added. This is due to Highways England's plans to dual the section of the A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton. There is currently limited detail available on the new junction location near Easton and, until more detail is known, the council has accounted for the possibility of the junction being located near Blind Lane and Taverham Road, or closer to the current Easton roundabout junction.
When it came to the vote to put the route options out for consultation, Mr Jermy and Labour colleague Colleen Walker abstained, accusing committee chairman Martin Wilby of rushing through the debate.
The Wensum Valley Alliance and the Norfolk branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England have criticised the potential Western Link. They are worried about its impact on the environment and countryside.
The Norwich Green Party has also been critical, saying it will undermine efforts to cut carbon emissions and say money would be better spent on more sustainable travel.
Public consultation will run from November 26 until January 19.
What are the options?
Option A: Single carriageway upgrade to A1067 to Lenwade and B1535 to A47 Wood Lane junction at Honingham, using existing bridge at Attlebridge. Length: 7.2 miles. Cost: £60m. Estimated to carry about 10,000 vehicles a day by 2040.
Option B: New dual carriageway and A1067 upgrade. New route to east of Weston Longville linked to A47 at Wood Lane junction. Two alternatives to link to A1067. New junction at Attlebridge, using current bridge or 2,165ft long viaduct over Wensum, joining A1067 east of Attlebridge. Length: 5.2 miles. Cost: £155m. Estimated to carry about 30,000 vehicles a day by 2040.
Option C: New dual carriageway and A1067 upgrade. Link to A47 at Wood Lane. New junction to take route between Weston Longville and Ringland, crossing Wensum on 2,362ft long viaduct. Length: 3.9 miles. Cost: £153m. Estimated to carry about 32,000 vehicles a day by 2040.
Option D: New dual carriageway and A1067 upgrade. New route west of Ringland, linked to A47 either at Taverham Road junction or closer to the current Easton roundabout junction, crossing Wensum on 2,165ft viaduct. Second viaduct over Tud. Length: 3.6 miles. Cost: £161m. Estimated to carry about 31,000 vehicles a day by 2040.